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Dershowitz: Trump's Obama Accusations Could Prove a 'Self-Inflicted Wound'

Dershowitz: Trump's Obama Accusations Could Prove a 'Self-Inflicted Wound'

By    |   Saturday, 04 March 2017 04:40 PM

President Donald Trump's tweets accusing former President Barack Obama of having phones tapped at Trump Tower in October could prove to be a "self-inflicted wound" should proof surface that a court found probable cause to issue a warrant ordering the surveillance, legal expert Alan Dershowitz said Saturday.

"If there was wiretapping, there would have to be a record [ordering it], the Harvard Law School professor emeritus told Newsmax. "On foreigners, you don't need a warrant, but an authorization on a private citizen requires a probable cause affidavit."

Saturday morning, Trump leveled his accusations with a flurry of tweets shortly after dawn, after a series of leaks revealed communications between Russian officials and his senior aides, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump has often denied personal ties to the Kremlin, despite his praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin's leadership skills, and his aides have either denied or played down their own contacts with Russia, responding to a series of accusations stemming from leaked communications.

Dershowitz said it would have been legal for the Obama administration to plant wiretaps on the Russian side of such phone communications, but to set up wiretaps in Trump Tower would require legal authorization based on a probable cause warrant.

There has also been a great deal of talk concerning Obama's executive order authorizing the National Security agency to share raw communications with intelligence agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security.

In addition, there has been talk about the Justice Department and FBI, under Obama, seeking Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Trump campaign insiders and then-presidential candidate Trump himself during the final months of the presidential campaign.

The FISA court denied the application as being overbroad when it was initially submitted in June, but approved a more narrowed one in October, the same month Trump alleges the wiretaps in his offices occurred.

However, Dershowitz said that even the FISA authorization would not have come into play when it comes to authorization to wiretap Trump Tower, as Trump has alleged, as it would instead have covered communications made by a foreign country.

Dershowitz said he once himself "got a postcard" that his voice was picked up on a wiretapped conversation with a foreign source, but years later, when he got a record of the communications, his own side of the conversation was redacted.

Even though there would have had to have been an official authorization, and court records authorizing the alleged wiretaps, he continued, the matter does have to be taken seriously in the event that "rogue wiretappers" could have bugged Trump's private lines at Trump Tower. But just going by Trump's comments, he said, "there is no way Obama could wiretap Trump Tower."

There was speculation on Saturday that Trump posted the tweets to deflect attention away from Sessions, who is facing calls to step down from several Democrats who accuse him of perjuring himself before a Senate confirmation hearing about his own contacts with Russians.

However, Dershowitz said that the Sessions matter could be cleared up if he testifies before the Senate again and corrects and clarifies his initial statements.

The famed attorney also does not believe Sessions committed perjury, and said that if he were representing Sessions, he'd recommend that he return to Congress, testify under oath, and correct what he'd said.

Perjury is difficult to prove, he continued, as there must be evidence that a person "willfully and deliberately" lied. The questions posed by Sen. Al Franken were vague, he said and it would be difficult to prove Sessions lied based on them.

Dershowitz said he also does not believe Sessions should step down from office, even though the accusations and his decision to recuse himself from investigations concerning Trump's campaign staff have "damaged" him, and he may have to recuse himself from more proceedings moving forward.

"It is important that his deputy attorney general be strong and effective," said Dershowitz, as he will likely be called upon to take on more cases.

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President Donald Trump s tweets accusing former President Barack Obama of having phones tapped at Trump Tower in October could prove to be a self-inflicted wound should proof surface that a court found probable cause to issue a warrant ordering the surveillance, legal...
Alan Dershowitz, Obama, Accusations, Trump, Twitter
Saturday, 04 March 2017 04:40 PM
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